Talitha Stevenson at The Financial Times:
The Good Story is a fizzing collection of exchanges, begun in 2008, between JM Coetzee and the psychotherapist Arabella Kurtz. The authors are well matched, able to draw one another out and to nudge each other in moments of complacency. What emerges is a Platonic dialogue with a postmodern twist. Rather than presenting a series of conclusions, the two retain their differences and their uncertainties: “Does this clarify something of the matter or just add to the confusion?” Coetzee writes at one point. At another, he admits: “So, as you can see, I am still stuck”.
Coetzee and Kurtz don’t confine themselves to a single issue. Instead, the book is a freewheeling conversation about psychotherapy, fiction, fantasy, repression and, in a sense that can draw these ideas together, the relationship between subjectivity and truth. It’s because of the authors’ modest intentions — they aim to discuss, not to conclude — that their minds can roam so freely. After discussing the individual’s capacity to repress, for example, they begin a loose but fascinating debate about the way in which groups or nations do the same. Coetzee refers to Australia and apartheid South Africa, Kurtz to her observations of staff in the NHS.